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Cover for the book Walter Pach (1883–1958)

Walter Pach (1883–1958)

The Armory Show and the Untold Story of Modern Art in America Laurette E. McCarthy
  • Copyright: 2011
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 10.5
  • Page Count: 250 pages
  • Illustrations: 10 color/36 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03740-0
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03741-7

Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund

“Laurette McCarthy, a specialist in early twentieth-century American art and its European background, has produced a detailed study of one of the neglected figures of the period—Walter Pach. Pach was a brilliant mirror of the age, an influential critic, essayist, historian, lecturer, dealer, agent, and, not least of all, painter. McCarthy has dealt convincingly with all these facets, drawing on a good deal of unpublished documentation that has never before been tapped. Her book is a compelling biography that deals not only with the facts of Pach’s life but also with his engagement with the aesthetic and social themes of his time.”
“Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, Laurette E. McCarthy’s meticulously documented biography of Walter Pach is an important contribution to the history of American modernism.”
“This book fills one of the most gaping lacunae in the literature on modern art, for it provides a vivid, enlivened, and accurate portrait of one of the most influential yet overlooked figures in the history of American art. Through his writings, lectures, and relentless efforts to educate, for nearly a half century Walter Pach worked tirelessly behind the scenes to introduce modern European art to an essentially unaware and uninformed American public. It is safe to say that without his promotional efforts—particularly as they pertain to the organization and staging of the celebrated Armory Show of 1913—the development of modern art in America might well have taken a very different course, one far less exciting and intellectually stimulating. Today, artists, critics, curators, and historians—indeed, anyone involved in the field of modern and contemporary art—are in one way or another indebted to the path he charted for us, and specifically to the decisions that shaped our aesthetic future and contributed significantly to the advancement and understanding of modern art in America.”
“No student of modern art should miss this thorough and fascinating study of one of the most important figures of the time, still little known except to specialists.”
“This is the 1st full length monograph about Walter Pach, a very important person in the development and promotion of modern art in America. Most of those interested in art know of the ‘Armory Show’, the 1913 exhibit in an armory in New York City, actually entitled ‘International Exhibition of Modern Art’. Many do not know that the importance of the show was the international aspect and that the only way this happened at all was because of Walter Pach. . . .A good read, using material from archival sources, with many illustrations, this book should be of interest to those who wonder how the European artists got their start in America.”

With the centennial of the famed 1913 Armory Show in New York City approaching, now is the ideal time to examine fully, and for the first time, the life and work of Walter Pach, one of the prime movers behind this seminal event in the American art world. Pach was among the most influential figures in the history of twentieth-century art and culture, yet surprisingly little has been written about him—and much that has been written offers incorrect information. Pach was one of the earliest and most outspoken promoters of modern art and was Henri Matisse’s first agent in the United States. Through his multiple roles as critic, agent, liaison, and lecturer, Pach promoted modern European, American, and Mexican art and helped win its acceptance throughout the North American continent. Laurette McCarthy’s detailed account reintroduces us to this key figure in the world of modern art.

Laurette E. McCarthy is an independent scholar and curator.


List of Illustrations



1. Family Background and Influence

2. Art Student Days

3. The Formative Years

4. The Armory Show

5. Pach the Artist, 1903–1919

6. Modern Art Exhibition Organizer

7. Society of Independent Artists

8. Liaison, Agent, Dealer, and Advisor

9. Writings on Modern European and American Art

10. Lectures on Modern European and American Art

11. Latin American Art and Artists

12. Historian

13. Return to Naturalism, 1919–1958

14. Final Decade


Appendix: Chronology


Selected Bibliography


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